Ever since I discovered Susan Alexandra’s beaded purses, thanks to my dear (and always ahead of the trends) friend Annie, I’ve been obsessed. They’re reminiscent of the purses you’d carry around in the summer as a kid — all fun and fruit and plastic beads. But don’t let the bright fruitiness belie the intricacy and beauty of the beadwork.
From watermelon purses to Carmen Miranda-esque shoes, with summer coming up (slowly but surely) I’ve been lusting after tropical vibes and fruity flavors.
In an interview in London in 1948, Miranda talked about the cultural roots of her famous fruit-based costumes. “In Brazil in Bahia, the girls carry the basket with the fruits on her head, and they have big bracelets and big necklaces and they sell fruits in the streets and I take it from the girls,” Miranda explained.
Fruit and fashion have a long history that proceeds even Miranda’s fruit headdress when she played the singer Dorita in 1943’s The Gang’s All Here. A fashion piece from 1895’s Los Angeles Times reported that mediant, a French confection of chocolate and fruits and nuts, was the “newest trimming” for hats, and years later, in 1918, the New York Times reported that artificial fruit was being used on hats.
In the ‘90s, Versace played with fruit prints along with many, many other hyper-colorful patterns. During Stella McCartney’s Spring/Summer 2011, she debuted a silky citrus gown. Also that year, Prada created a truly exuberant fruit party, melding tropical banana prints with a curlicued Baroque theme.
Fruit fashion goes somewhat hand-in-hand with resort or cruise collections, yet it has a more every person feel. Not everyone can use cruise collections for their intended purpose, jetting off somewhere tropical right after the holidays, but the vibrancy of watermelon or a banana popping off a shirt? That’s an accessible, mini-tropical vacation for everyone.